Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Listening with Care

One of my work duties involves observations of learning interactions in an experimental classroom, the Learning Studio. Until I completed the Listening Differently assignment in the Creativity MOOC, I hadn't realized how I had seen the Learning Studio with my eyes, but hadn't captured a lot of other interactions with my ears. The scope of my observation had been limiting and limited. Julian Treasure's video is a fabulous resource to review (Thanks again, Tina Seelig!). He is right; "we are losing our listening." When novelty ceases to be so, we become desensitized to the familiar. It is not just teachers who don't listen long enough for students to articulate their views; we just don't listen very well in these microwave-paced times. And, we don't teach listening in our schools, not very much. We assume we are effective listeners or that our students will somehow pick that up.

Treasure also touches on two other causes to this listening deficit: we are now able to document sounds and images (text, still and moving); there is so much clamor in our environment, we have to shut out noise from the truly deserving sound bites. To quote Treasure, "The art of conversation is being replaced -- dangerously, I think -- by personal broadcasting" (2011, July, Treasure, TED Global). How then could we improve our listening?

I practiced listening more carefully in the class and was able to capture some interactions I had not noticed in the Learning Studio previously (See mindmap above). The most striking detail I had hitherto omitted -- the hissing sound in the room! I wondered if it came from the sound system not being switched off. How ludicrous that I had missed this detail for an entire semester. Yet, it didn't bother anyone in the room, not the teacher, nor the students. It was screaming at my ears that very afternoon!

Silence. Mixer. Savor. Listening positions. RASA. Check out Treasure's explanation in the video for these five ways.

Captioning and transcript available through TEDGlobal link below.


Treasure, J. (2011, July). 5 ways to listen better [TEDGlobal 2011 Video]. Retrieved from

Treasure, J. (2011, July). 5 ways to listen better [TEDGlobal 2011 Video]. Retrieved from 

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